TIL Limited, a subsidiary of AHL Group, is diversifying to focus on other products and services on the market apart from concentrating on tobacco.
The development comes at a time the country’s main foreign exchange earner is facing an uncertain future due to worldwide pressure exerted by anti-smoking lobbyists.
TIL general manager Richard Chikunkhuzeni, in an interview on Tuesday in Lilongwe, said they could not just watch when tobacco is receiving pressure from many angles, including the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC).
He said by only dealing in tobacco, the company was putting all its eggs in one basket, which is not a smart business move.
Said Chikunkhuzeni: “If you see our operations today, our core business is tobacco rehandling and hessian scheme. In rehandling, we are servicing tobacco growers and buyers while in hessian scheme; we are dealing with growers and buyers.
“With the uncertainties in the tobacco industry, we have to be alert so that we are not caught off guard.”
While not disclosing the areas the company will be diversifying into, he said the process already started with the change of name from Tobacco Investments Limited to TIL Limited and once the diversification process is through, new jobs will be created.
“The diversification process will mean more jobs because we are not only focusing on the local market. This will help the country generate more forex, and as a company, we will be spreading our risks internally. What we are doing is exciting because there will be opportunities for suppliers of various materials and products,” he said.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Graham Kunimba commended TIL Limited for being proactive and forward-looking since buyers are reducing volumes they buy every year.
‘This is a welcome move because tobacco is facing a lot of challenges from anti-smoking lobbyists. Though tobacco growing will never end, but as a country we must know that volumes buyers are looking for are reducing every year and it is better to strategise to avoid being caught off guard,” said Kunimba.
Two weeks ago, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) said buyers are demand about 158 million kilogrammes (kg) of the leaf because they already have millions of kg of the crop which they bought last year. n